The Tower of London – we meet again

After 7,5 years I decided it was about time to visit the Tower of London again. This weekend I set out early morning, armed with my online bought ticket. Expecting a crowd, I was hoping to enter early and get a better view than last time. However, the amount of visitors was a direct result of the dreary and cold weather. I was actually first in queue, together with two ladies. When the gates opened, I walked into an empty Tower of London.

No elbows, no overexcited kids, no stressed out mums, no Babylonic confusion of tongues, no chaotic crowds, …. Wow! It is no nice to be able to take your time and take a good look around. As usual I just like to walk around a bit, just to soak up the surroundings and get a general impression, before I follow the map and routings.

Empty streets at the Tower of London ©MedievalMonologues

Initially founded by William the Conquerer 10 years after the Norman conquest, with the building of the imposing and dominating White Tower, his successors added towers, walls, fortifications and a moat. Many changes have been made in centuries of history, as is reflected in the many different styles of the towers and buildings. I especially liked the Medieval Palace. This part was added in the 13th century by king Henry III (r. 1216-1272) and his son Edward I (r. 1272-1307). It actually consists of several buildings: St. Thomas’s Tower, the Wakefield Tower and the Lanthorn Tower.

Details of the reconstructed Council Chamber with throne in the Medieval Palace ©MedievalMonologues
Wall and entrance to Lanthorn Tower ©MedievalMonologues

The White Tower now shows the Royal Armory collection. In historical order along the Line of Kings you can admire the armour for men and horse. No armour was made for Queens. I guess ladies don’t dress in a tin can and ride to war. Maybe that’s why some of the queens reigned for such a long time. It seems that harness was far from comfortable to wear, even if it could move at the joints, but preferred to being skewered in the field. It’s the warhorses that I respect most, they must have been so strong to carry all that extra weight. How different history – and today – would be like if there were no horses to fight all those wars.

Detail of the White Tower wall © MedievalMonologues

After reading ‘The Ravenmaster’ by Yeoman Warder Christopher Skaife, caretaker of the ravens, I really wanted to see the ravens at the Tower. There was a little patch of snow left near the raven’s pen, and apparently some ravens are quite fond of snow. Nothing like a good roll in the snow to clean your feathers. I watched it for some time, and I never saw a bird enjoying himself so much. I absolutely adore these cheeky, intelligent birds. I filmed it with my phone. Not the best of films, I admit, but nevertheless I want to share it with you:

© MedievalMonologues.com

The Crown Jewels are the least appealing part for me, but perhaps a second visit would change that. It seemed a waste to not profit from the total absence of queues. Last time it was so crowded that you could only squeeze through the escalator and barely could get a view. Now, it was completely empty. Together with a handfull of visitors I walked around twice and tried to be impressed. Although beautiful (I’m like a magpie: if it’s shiny, I’ll like it) – I can’t really appreciate it. It is too much value, just sitting there, representing power, at the cost of what ? I half expected, or hoped, for Moriarty to turn up and pose in the Crown jewels. That would have been a sight!

After a well spent friday morning, I set out for a walking tour along the City of London’s churches. Next to the Tower of London, you’ll find All Hallows at the Tower, one of the oldest churches in the City of London.

>> Plan your visit to the Tower of London. Go early, book your ticket online to save £4  and spend 2-3 hours (4 if your in queue for the Crown Jewels during seasonal peaks) <<
Old and new towers blending in almost flawlessly © MedievalMonologues